By Eileen Joy (Live With Purpose)
This morning I was in a rush, not all morning, it just sort of crept up on me and before I knew it, there was little time left in the morning. I’d had my shower, I had to braid my daughter’s glorious head of hair, and we had to get out the door. My mind was dwelling on other things… I was not present… I was mentally worrying my “TO DO LIST”.
Exam… tax return due… groceries needing to be done… sheets on bed needing to be changed… load of washing to hang out… a few bills to pay… pay for my yoga lessons… and don’t forget Master 7′s school assembly…
I was certainly not present, too busy mired in the future to recognise the gifts of the present.
My daughter sat in front of me, we were already late. She had selected her hair ties and I was braiding her hair. I asked Master 7 to go and get Miss 5′s school bag, because we really needed to be motor. He did. He plonked it down in front of her and declared that her bag was overly heavy.
The morning before Miss 5 had had a major problem finding some “news” to take to school. She wanted to take toys, toys is not really the done thing, and she and I had had to compromise over the “news” item. I berated her because I was tired of having to come up with last minute news items five minutes before walking out the door, and this seemed to me to be a normal occurrence putting a fly in the morning ointment. I had spoken with her about being more organised and muttered inwardly about priorities etc. I was not being a very mindful Mummy at all.
Then yesterday… as we were leaving school, I noticed that Miss 5′s bag was inordinately heavy. I commented on it, and she promised to empty it when we got home.
So when I saw the heavy bag plonked in front of me, I didn’t see a bag.
I didn’t see a moment of forgetfulness.
I didn’t see my beautiful daughter.
I morphed into an angry bull with a red flag waving obnoxiously in front of me, I dug in my heels, I roared and I CHARGED!!!
“If you weren’t so lazy last night then you would have emptied your bag and it wouldn’t be so heavy right now”.
Yeah, I said that.
Miss 5 promptly burst into tears.
“Mummy, we don’t say those sort of words” she sobbed. ”Mummy, I am not lazy, that was not nice”
Master 7 stood. He looked at me right in the eyes, and he said, “Mummy, that was really mean what you just said” he paused. He looked right into me again, and then he dealt me the kicker. ”Mummy, that does not fit with the values in our house, we don’t say things like that in this family”.
Cut. Down. To. Size.
By my SEVEN year old.
Did I get angry that he had talked back to me? That they had BOTH talked back to me.
No. NOT. FOR. ONE. SECOND.
I felt like laughing, I felt like cheering, I felt like I had run a marathon and I was passing the finishing line, my kids had talked BACK TO ME. YUSSSSSSS!!!!! Why did I feel so fantastic, why did my heart then swell with love. Why did I then pull my daughter in and apologise to her profusely, and hug her tightly?
Because of this:
My children do not fear me. They know what is right and what is wrong, and they have NO FEAR in telling me when I get it wrong. They know our family values so clearly, so profoundly that they can talk back to me when I get it wrong.
In that moment, my love for them was so fierce that I could have cried, and for the rest of this day you have not been able to wipe the grin off my face. My kids GET IT. They get that labelling people is not ok, and they know that I love them so unconditionally that when I label them, they are not afraid to call me on it.
Let your kids talk back. They need to know how to. If they can’t talk back to you, then how on EARTH will they be able to talk back to the kid who is telling them to do something that they know they shouldn’t. Let them talk back to you, let them tell you all about it, let them know you love them so much that they need not fear your response.
This post was originally published on October 26, 2012 on Live With Purpose.